What's the Deal?

with Ali Velshi's Banned Book Club

MSBNC host Ali Velshi founded his #VelshiBannedBookClub in February 2022, in response to the increasingly widespread practice of schools and libraries prohibiting readers — especially young readers — from accessing books that adults believe would make these readers uncomfortable.

These books include such literary classics as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and  Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, contemporary tomes such as Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist, and illustrated children’s books, New Kid and I Am Rosa Parks. Sadly, the list is way too long to include.


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From Margaret Atwood

The Canadian writer may currently be best known for her dystopian novel — written in 1985 and amplified in 2017 by a series on Hulu. As a author, Atwood is indeed prolific. She’s written 18 novels, including SurfacingThe Blind Assassin and The Testaments, a 2019 followup to The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s also published  11 books of nonfiction, and 8 children’s books.

She is also a poet, having published 18 books of poetry, activist, feminist, proponent of animal rights — and, she says, a diehard believer in the old-fashioned concept of the truth.


In CitizenCast

The Citizen’s podcast version of Ali Velshi’s banned book interview with author Margaret Atwood.



Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club with Margaret Atwood

The prolific, iconic author of "A Handmaid's Tale" speaks with the MSNBC anchor about the increasing threat of American autocracy

Listen: Ali Velshi Banned Book Club with Margaret Atwood

The prolific, iconic author of "A Handmaid's Tale" speaks with the MSNBC anchor about the increasing threat of American autocracy

Margaret Atwood, author of the seismic, seminal 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale came on the #VelshiBannedBookClub for the first time on Sunday, May 1, 2022. That day’s conversation started with the Oscar Wilde quote, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” By the next day, that quote and our conversation felt eerily prophetic.

Hours later, on May 2, a draft of the Supreme Court’s majority decision on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked. On June 24, that decision would explicitly overturn Roe vs. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion in this country. The theme of women’s bodily autonomy is intrinsic to dystopian world of The Handmaid’s Tale. So are the concepts of theocracy and autocracy.

Sadly, Atwood feels these themes are more apparent than ever in the decidedly nonfiction reality of the United States today. In our extended chat, the 82-year-old poet and novelist dives into science:

“A belief is a belief. It is not evidence based. And an opinion can be based on a belief or on a set of provable facts. All of these ideas that a cluster of cells is a human being — that is a belief.”

She calls the subversion of religion, especially a subversion based in White supremacy, “a sham version of Christianity.”

And, she offers some cold comfort about the January 6 insurrection. “The difference between January 6 and what happens in The Handmaid’s Tale is, what happens in The Handmaid’s Tale was better organized.”

Listen to the interview below:

Velshi and Atwood Discuss A Handmaid’s Tale

Velshi on banned books on MSNBC:


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